James Damore’s 10-page Google Manifesto criticizing Google’s support of diversity initiatives has created quite a buzz and controversy in the tech and business world.
From the perspective of a headhunter who has worked with CEOs to analyst-level staff, Damore’s views are toxic and unhealthy to companies’ recruitment and retention efforts. From a pragmatic standpoint, Damore’s thinking reveals flawed and ignorant logic, unhelpful to run a successful business in today’s world.
Thankfully, Damore has been publicly rebuked and fired as a result for airing his borderline white-male-supremacist views that I discuss here:
#1. There is a lack of women in technical fields and C-level/upper management because of cultural legacies, NOT biological differences as Damore believes. Anyone who has taken a gender studies class or read Lean In know what Damore doesn’t – that women are largely cultivated from a young age to aspire to be attractive and marry-able versus being financially and professionally successful. That is still the case in the US and most definitely in the majority of the world.
#2. Our society, parental values, and old-school child-rearing techniques are to blame for diversity issues. Women are less likely to ask their worth (salary negotiation) and feel limited by their careers (expectations to rear children and families) due to cultural legacies.
I saw that firsthand as a manager. One of my employees, a young woman in her 20s, had been taught from her parents since childhood to singularly aspire to be a good wife and mother as her main calling in life*. She was fearful of having a career because the logic goes, why have a career if I know I have to leave soon to bear children? What’s the point of working hard?
Is that because she’s biologically unfit due to her being a woman? No, it’s because her parents fed her drivel.
*Nevermind the reality that divorce rates have never been higher and that marriage is not guaranteed to feed you and your family should any tragedy, separation, or abuse befall you or your family. In today’s world, can you earnestly tell a woman that marriage will protect and nurture their future and pay for their retirement?
Many people are still taught to think in 19th Century terms. THAT is the true reality. And THAT is why diversity programs are crucial to help women and minorities reclaim their confidence and right to a successful and responsibility-laden career.
#3. Companies’ left-leaning belief systems are necessary to survive in today’s commercial and social environment. Contrary to Damore’s recommendation to “embrace conservatism”, businesses do not commercially nor culturally benefit from endorsing conservative values.
The majority of employees, vendors, and customers, from many cultures, races, and genders do NOT endorse conservative ideals. In today’s terms, conservative values only benefit one demographic, that of the white male. We see that more clearly than ever in Trump’s initiatives, the deeply-held beliefs of his support base, and the blatant propaganda/paranoia being spread in right-wing news.
Businesses can’t survive off of Trump’s base, thus there is no commercial benefit from adopting right-wing views. They need consumers who are wealthy, educated, and have disposable income to use and pay for services. Thus, businesses adopt left-leaning ideology to survive in today’s terms. For better or for worse, profit drives behavior. In the 21st Century, progressive ideals reign supreme. Damore’s request is a direct challenge and insult to the company’s core belief system.
Due to his violation of an unsaid moral code, he was discarded by being fired. When you don’t play by the game’s rules, you’ll inevitably be thrown out.
#4. The root of the diversity problem is not biology, it’s racial and sexist segregation.Most women are not groomed from a young age to aspire towards a successful career in tech; again, they’re told they’re unsuitable for “tough” careers by their parents. Most minorities, other than Asians, are not exposed to tech and its benefits because of cultural legacies and being consistently underprivileged, century after century.
White and Asian people dominate tech because they come from communities and school systems (middle to upper class demographic) that bestow upon them the privilege of speaking “White” English, of knowing how to deal with and assimilate into the majority-White white collared world, and how to progress within that demographic. College is a rite of passage for most White and Asian people – it’s expected, socially strived towards, and encouraged and paid for by parents.
Asian immigrant children (like me and many of those in tech), are forced to perform academically by our parents, many of whom came to America based on academic merit and scholarship. Thus, their children, naturally, are forced to pursue academic excellence by our aggressive, old-school, immigrant parenting methods. Arts, social work, and other less lucrative fields, are not promoted to Asian children, therefore you’ll see a drastic reduction in the Asian labor force in those industries.
Latinos and blacks are still racially segregated into poor communities with low caliber teachers, ill-equipped to handle the emotional stressors of at-risk youth, born into poverty. They are overwhelmed by the gap that these children cannot recover from. Most parents in these neighborhoods don’t have access to education themselves, nor can they help their children financially or emotionally.
There aren’t enough minorities and women in tech because there just aren’t enough making it through the education system!
Our problem with diversity will never go away until the root of the problem is solved: SUPPLY. The supply of this labor force of women and minorities needs to be encouraged and promoted long before they mature. That means:
(1) Spending more money, resources, and increasing the caliber of education in poverty-stricken cities. Changing parental attitudes towards what women can do.
(2) Giving back. Successful people need to start interacting with kids who grow up in disadvantaged neighborhoods. We need to build the bridge NOW.
(3) Media + Money – spreading the news and providing resources for children and young adults to get access to better language skills and training programs unavailable in their existing impoverished school districts, limiting exposure to negative influences such as juvenile delinquency, the glorification of gangster culture, and drug use.
The problem of diversity is systematic.
It’s a social ill that we as private citizens, have to get involved with. The government doesn’t care. They’re not spending money on educating its own citizens because they don’t care about poor peoples’ children! For the last 2 generations, we’ve been outspending in military rather than education. It’s now a reality that other countries’ education systems are far superior than that of the US.
We need to stop this cycle of abuse and we’re grateful for every business that recognizes this social ill and is making amends to fix it. Thank you, Google!
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